Maiden Dixie With Jake Nelson, and the Plott Hounds The Cabooze, Minneapolis Friday, June 5
Occasionally, a band is so good live that you just laugh out loud. Not because they're funny, but because they keep surprising and entertaining you in very good ways. That's what happened on Friday when Maiden Dixie took the stage at The Cabooze.
It marked their inaugural show at the Cabooze as part of of a night showcasing local country music.
They took the stage as the clock struck midnight with, "An Honest Man's Wage," from their new album, Unsafe & Sound, playing over the PA. As soon as that ended they launched into "Love Revival," and proceeded to turn the floor of the bar into a dance floor. It wasn't packed, but the crowd ate up every minute of it.
Like most bands still trying to make name for themselves, Maiden Dixie did a great job of balancing original music with covers. The crowd went wild when the group's lone female vocalist Channing Himes launched into Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine" three songs into the set. Other covers touched on different corners of the musical spectrum, with the entire group harmonizing on an acoustic version of the Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road." And one of the biggest surprises of the night came when bassist Drew "Tank" Sherman took the lead on a Johnny Cash medley where he sounded a lot like the Man In Black himself. That was followed by guitarist Jonathan Krentz breaking out a familiar drinking toast ("Ziggy zaggy ziggy zaggy hoi hoi hoi!!").
Another surprise cover came from main male vocalist Jesse Becker who launched into "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" after revealing that someone told the band at a previous gig that they were pretty good, but they didn't have soul.
The originals proved to be just as good. Highlights, in addition to "Love Revival," included "Shoulda' Gone Home," the broken-down duet between Becker and Himes of "Story of Our Own," "The Road," "Smooth Talkin' Man" from their Little Black Dress album, and the group went out with bang on "Bullets In the Gun." Towards the end of the song Becker jumped into the crowd to rile them up for one last chorus.
As the time closed in on 1:30 a.m., they brought on openers Jake Nelson and the Plott Hounds' lead singer Noah Alexander to help close out the night with Hank Williams, Jr.'s "Family Tradition."
Maiden Dixie was in top form, and their chemistry was undeniable. They were on stage having the time of their lives, and the audience was just along for the ride. You got the feeling that it was just a bunch of friends who enjoyed playing music together, and the music reflected that camaraderie.
The openers did well, too. Jake Nelson opened up with a very soulful, acoustic-laden set, accompanied by a musician who switched between acoustic guitar and a wooden box to drum on. Nelson kicked things off with Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight," and then balanced between originals off his Full Swing album and covers such as Sam Hunt's "Take Your Time."
The Plott Hounds turned it way up for their set. Lead singer Alexander was definitely the twangiest of the singers tonight, which makes sense given that he's from Georgia. It's easy to tell they're very talented, but there seemed to be many times where the instruments were louder than the vocals, which made it hard to hear what the song was at certain points. With that said, the crowd didn't seem to mind and rocked out the entire time.
Maiden Dixie showed they're ready for the next level when they got on that stage. And they're going to have a lot of fun getting there.